Juneteenth, which is commemorated on June 19, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It's also a time to spotlight and uplift Black stories, and one way to do that this year is by watching the movies and TV shows that celebrate Black voices. As
Black Lives Matter protests continue to take place all over the country, and President Joe Biden just signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and HBO Max all provide a place to watch Black stories.
While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to make celebrating holidays complicated, one small way that everyone can
mark Juneteenth is by watching movies, documentaries, and TV shows from and about Black voices. Some of the titles currently available, like 13th and The Hate U Give, delve into the difficult but important systemic topics of police brutality, the need for prison reform, and more. However, viewers should also seek out stories of Black joy, love, and excellence that are available, like HBO Max's Legendary and Being Serena.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable gathering in groups just yet, that doesn't mean you can't celebrate and support Black artists while at home. Here are 18 titles to stream this
Set in an alternate history timeline,
is a timely series about a masked vigilante played by Watchmen Regina King based on the 1986 namesake DC Comics series. The show is full of superheroes and wonderfully weird sci-fi touches like squid showers. But it also opens with the Tulsa massacre of 1921 and delves deep into police corruption. Available on HBO Max. Taste The Nation
Food writer and
host Top Chef Padma Lakshmi gets her own travel cooking show in , a Hulu original that premiered in 2020. In each episode, she highlights the culinary journeys of immigrants’ foods and their influence on American food culture. In Episode 4 of the first season, Lakshmi highlights the history, traditions, and cuisine of Taste the Nation South Carolina’s Gullah Geechee people. Watch it on Hulu. High On The Hog
If you want to learn even more about the Gullah people, you should also check out Netflix's
, which highlights the journey of enslaved people from Africa to America and how their food and traditions have carried on through the years. The four-part docuseries released in May is based on Jessica Harris’s 2011 book, High on the Hog , and hosted by writer Stephen Satterfield. The episode on the Black community's history with oysters and macaroni and cheese is particularly enlightening. Stream it on Netflix. High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America Notes From The Field
Pulitzer Prize nominee Anna Deavere Smith turned her one-woman show
into a searing exploration of America's school-to-prison pipeline for HBO. In the 2018 film directed by Kristi Zea, Smith dramatizes the real-life accounts of students, parents, and teachers who have witnessed firsthand how the current system pushes underprivileged students to go directly from school to prison. Available on HBO. Notes From the Field Legendary
The underground ballroom community takes center stage in HBO Max's 2020 and 2021 competition series
. Hosted by Legendary Dashaun Wesley, the performers aim to wow judges Jameela Jamil, Megan Thee Stallion, Law Roach, and Leiomy Maldonado, as well as a weekly celebrity guest judge. It's also a terrific show to watch this Pride month since it celebrates Black LGBTQ+ voices and experiences. Stream it on HBO Max. Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas combines the talk show and travel documentary formats to explore the systemic issues facing Americans in different parts of the country — from rural Texas to downtown Cincinnati. Using comedy, Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas writer and host Cenac does more than expose the problems, though. In the Emmy-nominated show’s two seasons, he also outlines ways to change the country for the better. Available on HBO Max. Being Serena
A celebration of Black excellence, the five-episode HBO docuseries
Being Serena gives an intimate glimpse of the life of tennis champion Serena Williams. Released in 2018, the first-person portrayal follows the pro athlete as she navigates her career, businesses, and her personal life from her pregnancy to the delivery room in an attempt to answer the question “What makes Serena Williams great?” Stream it on HBO Max. Southside With You
This joyful 2016 film, a directorial debut of Richard Tanne, tells the story of
Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date in 1989 and the courtship that follows. The romantic stars Southside with You Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers as the young Obamas, and if you’ve ever wanted to watch how this power couple’s relationship blossomed, this is the movie for you. Available for rent on Amazon Prime. Bessie
Queen Latifah, HBO's 2015 biopic explores the life of legendary Blues singer Bessie Smith. Directed by Bessie Dee Rees, the movie is not only a great way to introduce yourself to Smith's music as “The Empress of the Blues,” but it also happens to be one of Latifah's best performances. It even won an Emmy award for Outstanding Television Movie. Stream it on HBO Max. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Judas And The Black Messiah Queen Sugar
is another DuVernay streaming project based on the namesake novel by Natalie Baszile. The drama series follows a New Orleans family (Charley, played by Dawn-Lyen Gardner; Nova, played by Queen Sugar Rutina Wesley; and Ralph Angel Bordelon, played by Kofi Siriboe) as a relative’s death forces them to assemble back in their hometown. Watch it on Hulu +.
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This article was originally published on
June 19, 2020